Duva, Canto, Saad Muhammad Enter Hall
A STEADY DRIZZLE may have turned the ninth annual induction ceremonies at the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York, into a soggy affair. But it couldn't dampen the spirit of this year's inductees or the 3,000 fans, family members and fighters who witnessed the event. Many spectators stood in the rain -- some equipped with umbrellas, some not -- as living inductees Lou Duva, Miguel Canto and Matthew Saad Muhammad made emotional speeches.
Also inducted with Duva, Canto and Saad Muhammad was former junior welterweight champ Antonio Cervantes, who was unable to attend the ceremony.
There were nine men inducted posthumously. From the modern era was Sammy Angott. From the old-timers era were Joe Choynski, Frankie Genaro, George (Kid) Lavigne, Benny Lynch and Sammy Mandell. From the pioneer category was "Professor" Mike Donovan and elected with Duva in the non-participants category were manager William A. Brady and Philadelphia-based promoter Herman Taylor.
Hall of Fame weekend in Canastota has become the biggest annual event in boxing. Fans, media and fighters mingle all weekend with the sweet science serving as the common theme. For four days each year, the ills that plague this sport take a backseat to the enthusiasm shared by all who come to Canastota to pay homage to boxing. The fact that so many arrived in Canastota amidst the poor weather and that numerous spectators braved the elements during the induction ceremony demonstrated how dedicated the fans and inductees are to this important event.
"Every time I get to the toll booth here, and I've been doing it for nine years, I think, 'Welcome to boxing heaven,' " said Philly promoter Russell Peltz, who spoke on behalf of inductee Herman Taylor.
Added Saad Muhammad: "I think this is the best thing that ever happened in boxing. I'm so happy. This is almost like winning the world championship again."
Duva, who in 60 years in the sport has been a boxer, trainer, manager and promoter, laughed about being placed in the non-participants category. "Non-participant? Can you imagine me in a fight and I'm a non-participant. That's unbelievable," the 76-year-old Duva said. "I'm looking to kick the hell out of somebody, and they're calling me a non-participant."
Promoter Mike Acri staged a live professional boxing show at the nearby Turning Stone Casino in conjunction with Induction Weekend. It was the first pro card at the casino and Acri promised to put on another show next year. In the featured bout, former three-time champ Hector (Macho) Camacho scored a sixth-round TKO over Tommy Small. Former WBA junior middleweight champion Carl Daniels launched his comeback with a TKO win in the semifinal.
Numerous Hall of Fame alumni and world champions attended the weekend festivities. They included Hall-of-Famers Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Floyd Patterson, Archie Moore, Jose Torres, Bob Foster, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Joey Giardello, Gene Fullmer, Carmen Basilio, Emile Griffith, Aaron Pryor, Alexis Arguello, Carlos Ortiz, Beau Jack, Ruben Olivares, Eddie Futch, Emanuel Steward and Arthur Mercante.
Other past or present world champions who were in Canastota to witness the event were Pernell Whitaker, Johnny Tapia, Camacho, Daniels, Kevin Kelley, Felix Trinidad, Tracy Patterson, Mark Breland, Billy Soose, Billy Backus and Buddy McGirt.
With the inclusion of Saad Muhammad and Canto, the total number of past or present champions on hand was 27.